Michigan's lacrosse team hasn't known a whole lot of success in its history as a Division I program. Entering Saturday's contest with Ohio State, the Wolverines had notched a 1-25 mark through the better part of two years. U-M was winless this spring.
When it comes to a rivalry game, the old saying goes, throw the records out the window. The Buckeyes' 8-3 mark should be irrelevant entering the stadium where even the gridiron Buckeyes have seen good seasons spoiled.
If the bad blood was supposed to make for an even contest, nobody managed to inform Ohio State senior attackman Logan Schuss. The British Columbia native, who is in his fourth straight year leading Ohio State in scoring, added to his numbers in a big way, notching five goals and five points for a ten-point day in the 17-8 win.
"He's just a great talent," Michigan coach John Paul said. "We can do a few different things to try to take him out of the game, but if we shut him off, then we're playing five-on-five with the other guys, and that's not a good matchup for us, either."
Schuss, a watchlist member for the Tewaaraton Award (the highest individual honor in lacrosse), was slowed down by the Wolverines last year in a closer-than expected 12-9 Buckeye victory, but managed to account for over half the Buckeyes' tallies Saturday.
Schuss had plenty of opportunities as well, thanks to a dominating performance on faceoffs by teammates Trey Wilkes, Kacy Kapinos, and Ryan Hunter. Searching for answers, Paul replaced faceoff specialist Brad Lott after a 5-15 performance… and an untimely conduct penalty.
"Brad just wasn't getting it done," Paul explained, "And then he had an error in judgment there, so we gave Kevin [Wylie] a chance."
Outside of faceoffs and defending against Schuss, there were several positives to take from the game for Michigan. The ground ball battle was relatively close - despite Ohio State's dominance on faceoffs - and U-M committed a season-low seven turnovers.
Senior captain Thomas Paras, returning to full strength from a knee injury suffered early in the year, scored a season-high four goals, tying the season-high for individual Wolverines.
"The knee is getting back to where I want it," Paras said. "I'm feeling a lot better, and I'm getting back into the offense because I'm more confident."
Paras, a native of Cleveland, was disappointed that he would end his college career without a victory without his home-state Buckeyes. That will give another member of his family some bragging rights.
"My sister actually went to Ohio State, so we had a little rivalry there," Paras said with a chuckle. "It would have been nice to be able to get the win for that reason, too."
Paras' team-leading offensive output - he added an assist to his goals - was a good individual performance, but of course that's not the goal for the team captain. He wanted the win.
"It's definely bittersweet," Paras said. "I would trade the five points I had for a win in a heartbeat."
Paras was not the only Wolverine who had a good day offensively. Freshmen Kyle Jackson and Mike Hernandez had two-point days with Jackson notching two goals and Hernandez putting in a goal and an assist. Eight goals on 30 possessions is an outstanding output for an offense that has struggled at times against elite competition this year. The Buckeyes' defense ranks 18th nationally among 63 teams.
"We hit our offensive efficiency numbers today," Paul said. "But with 50-percent efficiency on defense, it is just not going to get it done."
There's not much time to work on fixes to some of the Wolverines' ailments. It's straight from the frying pan into the fire on the rivalry docket. In-state opponent Detroit will make its first appearance in Michigan Stadium tomorrow at 7 p.m.
• Gerald Logan, one of the country's best goalkeepers, had a rare poor outing. The freshman made just 10 saves while allowing 17 goals.
• Although Ohio State hasn't been known for a heavy ride in 2013, the Buckeyes turned up the pressure against Michigan. Still, the Wolverines handled the full-field pressure well, successfully clearing 16 of 19 attempts.
• Schuss' brilliance overshadowed and excellent offensive day by three of this teammates (while contributing to their success). Fellow attackmen Turner Evans and Carter Brown scored four and three goals, respectively. Midfielder Jesse King scored twice and added three assists.
•Against Michigan's porous defense, Ohio State launched 41 shots, 27 of them on the cage. The Wolverines managed 30 shots, but only 18 were in the direction of the goal.